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Quiz bowl showcases teens’ range of knowledge

It was 90 minutes into the Tuesday morning competition and Fairland Middle School was leading St. Joseph 59 to 45. At the half, coaches took a moment to see if they wanted any substitute from their bench, but decided to stay with the players on the stage at Ohio University Southern.

Then the lightning round began with both sides going back and forth in a blitz of academic trivia. While Fairland maintained its lead with a victory of 69-51, those involved with this year’s Lawrence County Quiz Bowl agreed it was a win for all participants.

“This is for the well-rounded individual,” Fairland coach Jim Roberts said. “Most of the kids here are readers. There’s not much TV time. I don’t have a person on the team who is not a reader.”

It was the first time for Matt McComas, a Fairland seventh grader, to be at the countywide competition. He got into quiz bowl contests because “it seemed like a lot of fun,” he said.

He and his teammates practice together four times a week, usually during lunch. For the most part game nerves are not part of his makeup.

“When it first starts there is not a lot of pressure,” McComas said. “When you get to the time when you need a win, it is a little nerve-wracking.”

The reason for the relative calmness is the amount of practice the students put in beforehand.

“They practice so much, they learn not to be nervous,” Roberts said.

St. Joseph’s Eli Lutz says the secret to winning is acquiring a wide-range of knowledge.

“It takes hard work and I spent a lot of time with Wikipedia,” Lutz said.

His classmate, Cole Willis, whose expertise is math, bones up watching television news broadcasts and studying a lot textbooks.

“You have to study a lot to be prepared for any kind of questions,” Willis said.

This year’s county Junior High Ohio Valley Academic Conference Tournament was sponsored by OUS and the Lawrence County Educational Services Center.

Quiz Bowl is a question and answer game played between two teams of five players each. Points are scored from correct answers to questions asked by a reader.

Each county school has a team consisting of 10 to 20 students. A school sponsor works with the students, having mock matches to teach the students how to play.

This year Fairland took the top honors beating Rock Hill in the final round of questions.